Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Baseball Memories

              Baseball. How I loved to play this game when I was a boy. Nothing could captivate me more than a pick-up game on a sand lot, or an empty field, or an actual baseball diamond. And if we could play after dark using the ambient light from street lights or homes, all the better. An older kid with a car might bring it to the area where we played and turn on his headlights so we could see to play.

My baseball career was short-lived. Initially I played in the Pee Wee League, later advancing to Little League. The Babe Ruth League would have been next. However, my folks moved to Europe in the summer of 1960. I took my glove and bat, sadly realizing the French were not the slightest bit interested in baseball. The summer of ’60 I was anticipating entering Junior High. I hoped to play baseball for Fox Lane Junior High (a middle school today). I was also at the peak of my Little League exploits, experiencing an undefeated season as a pitcher, playing for Bracetti’s Appliances. But playing organized baseball ended for me in July of ’60.

I guess this is part of the reason I get a bit nostalgic thinking back on those days. Those were good days to be a kid in the late ’50s.

This brings me to my current hobby of singing the classic American music form of Barbershop Music. I sing with the Golden Valley Chorus out of Modesto. Our Annual Show is November 7th at the Turlock Community Theater, 7:00 PM. The theme of the show is “Get Happy.” One of the songs we will be singing is “There Used to be a Ballpark Right Here.” The lyrics begin, “Oh, there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green, and the people played their silly game with a joy I’ve never seen.” Then the song ends with these words, “And the summer went so quickly this year. Yes, there used to be a ballpark right here.” Man, I remember playing those games that I never wanted to end, during a summer I never wanted to end. Makes me wonder what fields are still there where I grew up in New England.

Well, enough of the maudlin stuff. My interest in baseball was renewed this post-season when I realized that, even though neither of my teams (Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants) were going to make it into the play-offs, there was something I learned. My brother informed me that his son’s wife’s brother is married to the sister of the 2nd Baseman for the American League Champion Kansas City Royals, Ben Zobrist. Alas! I now had a team to root for!

I followed the Royals through there early post-season wins leading to the climax of game six where Ben Zobrist hit a home run in the first inning to give the Royals an early lead. The final score was 4-3, Royals! When you read this in the Ripon Record the World Series between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals will be underway.

So, now with the World Series upon us, we have up to seven more games to enjoy the remainder of this year. Each game will start with a local celebrity singing the National Anthem. There’s also the throwing out of the first pitch by some dignitary. And then the famous cry of the home plate umpire, “Play Ball!”

Was it really sixty years ago I was playing Pee Wee League? My calendar says “Yes!” Well, I can still smell the linseed oil I’d rub into my glove and the feel of a new baseball fresh out of the box. Parents and friends would gather in the bleachers cheering on all the would-be pro baseball players. But once inside the lines of the baseball field it was like being transported into another dimension. That must be why I love the movie, “Field of Dreams” so much because it beautifully captured the magic of the game.

As the movie came to a close, Kevin Costner asks his dad if they could play catch. So as the credits begin to roll, there is the father and his son playing catch on the field of dreams.

I used to play catch with my step father in the afternoons when he came home from work. I miss that. Those were good times, and even better memories.

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